It was built as possibly the best championship weekend in college football history, but Saturday's games pretty much set up the College Football Playoff picture, which will be finalized on Sunday night. First, the Clemson Tigers cruised past the Miami Hurricanes, 38-3, for their third straight ACC Championship. Kelly Bryant threw for 252 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a score, as the Tigers prepare to defend their National Championship. Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster, and Adam Choice all ran for touchdowns, helping Clemson end Miami's playoff hopes. Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs overcame their lone loss, which was an upset defeat to the Auburn Tigers as the No. 1 team a couple weeks back, by snatching the SEC Crown from them with a 28-7 win on Saturday. Jake Fromm threw for two touchdowns, while D'Andre Swift ran in for another, as the Bulldogs earned their first SEC Title since 2005. On the defensive side of the ball, Roquan Smith recorded two big turnovers in the Bulldogs' 12th win of the season. The Tigers had 488 yards in the November 11th rout of Georgia, but were held to just 259 in their third loss of the season on Saturday. And the Oklahoma Sooners not only have college football's best player, but they also have a Big 12 Title after a 41-17 blowout of the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday. Quarterback Baker Mayfield helped sealed his team's conference title and a possible Heisman Trophy for himself with four passing touchdowns. He did not turn the ball over and threw for 243 yards, helping his team compile 461 total yards in the win. The Horned Frogs turned the ball over twice, including on their first offensive play of the game, which was a fumble that was returned 18 yards for a touchdown by Caleb Kelly. It's hard to see any of these three victorious teams held out of the four-team playoff bracket when everything becomes official on the College Football Playoff Selection Show on Sunday night.
UCF, Ohio State Earn Conference Titles
Two other teams that earned conference championship victories on Saturday, but will most likely be held out of the playoffs include UCF and Ohio State. First, the Knights completed a perfect 12-0 season with a double-overtime win over No. 20 Memphis for the AAC Championship on their home field. Otis Anderson ran in from a yard out to give UCF the lead in the second overtime, as the 62-55 win was sealed by a Tre Neal interception. The loss was a tough one for the Tigers, who out-gained UCF 753-726, while also forcing four turnovers in what was their second loss of the season. Riley Ferguson threw for four touchdowns in the loss for Memphis, as he was matched up by McKenzie Milton, who had five passing touchdowns for the Knights. The Tigers did rally from a 10-point deficit in the first half, and an 11-point deficit in the second half, to force overtime. It was the second straight big win at home for UCF, who outlasted South Florida in a wild game last week. Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes ended the Wisconsin Badgers' perfect season and playoff hopes with a 27-21 win on Saturday night for the Big Ten Championship. J.T. Barrett threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, as Ohio State kept their slim playoff chance alive. J.K. Dobbins had 174 yards on the ground, as the Buckeyes put up 499 yards of offense in their 11th win. Despite that, their blowout loss to Oklahoma early in the season and an upset rout to Iowa has the Buckeyes most likely on the outside looking in when it comes to the final four.
Cavs Win 11th Straight, Send Grizzlies to 11th Straight Loss
LeBron James was very outspoken in questioning the Memphis Grizzlies' decision to fire head coach David Fizdale last week, and he may have used that as motivation to hold that same team down on Saturday night. James had 34 points to lead his Cleveland Cavaliers to their 11th straight win with a 116-11 victory at home. It was also Memphis's 11th straight loss, despite them making things interesting in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Cavs by six in the final 12 minutes. They trailed by as many as 19 in the third quarter, but came back to tie the game at 109 on Dillon Brooks' three-pointer with 2:10 left. James would then take over with a basket and then a three-point play on consecutive possessions. Tyreke Evans had 31 points and 12 assists, while Marc Gasol added 27 points, but the Grizzlies dropped to 7-15 on the season and 3-7 away from home. The Cavs have now scored at least 100 points in every game of this win streak, which is their longest streak since winning 12 in a row in 2015. Kevin Love had 20 points and 11 rebounds, despite an injury scare after colliding knees with Jamychal Green in the third quarter. He did remain in the game. The Cavaliers will take their win streak on the road in Chicago against the Bulls on Monday night, while the Grizzlies return home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves that same day.